Title: Basic research? Applied research? Or both?? Pichia choice!
Speaker: Prof. P N Rangarajan, Professor and Chair, Department of Biochemistry, IISc, Bangalore
Date and Time: 25th November 2021 at 4.00 pm on MS Teams
Prof. Govindan Rangarajan, Director, IISc will preside
Abstract: Basic research is aimed at acquisition of knowledge for the sake of knowledge while applied research implies the research that is put to practical use and is beneficial to society. Thanks to the academic freedom at IISc, I was able to do both. Our lab started off exploring basic aspects of eukaryotic gene regulatory mechanisms and, at the same time, collaborate with Indian Biotech industry in indigenous vaccine development. Between 1998 and 2002, we developedthe recombinant Hepatitis B vaccine technology and transferred to Indian companies that have been using it till date for the manufacture of two monovalent (BEVAC, Elovac-B) and two pentavalent (ComBE Five, Vaxtar-5) vaccines. We were the first to initiate DNA vaccine research in India. We developed a promising DNA rabies vaccine candidate which, unfortunately, did not progress beyond animal studies due to denial of regulatory approvals for human clinical trials. On the sunny side, rabies virus and Japanese encephalitis virus cultures established for the evaluation of DNA vaccine efficacy were put to good use for the next decade and more, by employing them in the lab to understand host-pathogen interactions better.
Our most prolific findings in basic research have come while studying the regulation of metabolic pathways in Pichia pastoris, the methylotrophic yeast which was used to make the aforementioned recombinant Hepatitis vaccine. Thus far, we have characterized three transcription factors, a post-transcriptional regulator, a nuclear-localized methionine synthase and a repurposed retrograde signalling pathway. A glutamate-inducible translational regulatory circuit identified recently is being exploited for the development of a methanol-free Pichia expression system for the production of recombinant proteins.
About the speaker: P N Rangarajan, FNA, FASc, FNASc, FAMS, Professor and Chair, Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, obtained his PhD from the Department of Biochemistry at IISc. After carrying out postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute, San Diego, USA, he joined IISc as Assistant Professor in 1993. He is the recipient of awards such as the Swarnajayanti Fellowship (DST), Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize (CSIR), N-BIOS Prize (DBT), TATA Innovation Fellowship (DBT), Biotech Product, Process Development, and Commercialization award (DBT), J C Bose Fellowship (DST), NASI- Reliance Industries Platinum Jubilee award (NASI), etc. Prof. Rangarajan has been pursuing research in the areas of eukaryotic gene expression, recombinant vaccines, and infectious diseases.
All are welcome